0 Love It
Save it

Best gay bars in Chicago

Boystown is the center of the gay scene in Chicago. But great gay bars can be found everywhere from downtown to Uptown.

Photograph: Christopher Kitahara
Big Chicks is one of the best gay bars in Chicago.

Chicago has a vibrant gay bar scene, and from dance clubs to dive bars to sports bars, there's an LGBT-oriented watering hole in Chicago to fit every interest. And here's the best part—they're not all in Boystown.

RECOMMENDED: Drink at the best bars in Chicago

Best gay bars in Chicago

1

Sidetrack

If size matters, there’s no better bar in Boystown than this hot spot. Six big rooms and a gorgeous rooftop deck are all packed with cute, frisky boys distracting themselves with the same three things: the videos on the wall, the drink in their hand and the ass in your jeans. Enjoy the signature slushie drinks carefully—you don't want brain freeze to impair your flirting.

Read more
Boystown
2

Big Chicks

Not a Boystown fan? Skip the stand-and-model parade and head to this laid-back Uptown saloon, where community matriarch Michelle Fire serves up tasty victuals to sunburned boys and girls at her famous Sunday buffets and keeps the rest of the week happening with tons of food and drink specials (like buck burgers on Mondays) and all-out dance parties on weekends.

Read more
Uptown
3

Berlin

This freak-friendly dance destination in Lakeview built its reputation back in the mid-’80s with a mix of German new-wave music, art installations and even transvestite shows. These days, it’s still quirky but more retro, with Prince-tribute, disco and ’80s nostalgia nights. Goths and gays are extra welcome, but the scene here is made up of almost everyone. Thursday night's Stardust is a major locus of nightlife creativity.

Read more
Lakeview
4

The Closet

Critics' pick

This teeny taproom is a good stone’s throw from the hustle and muscle of Halsted Street’s rowdy boy bars, and that’s just the way this clientele likes it. Plenty of ladies hang here until the midnight hour, but the boys crash the party shortly thereafter, creating one of the few truly mixed queer scenes in the city.

Read more
Boystown
5

Wang's

Critics' pick

After Henry Chang got a liquor license for his formerly BYOB eatery Wakamono, he promptly built one of Boystown’s best bars. The intimate space is, like all of Chang’s projects, highly stylized, employing lush, floral wallpaper and woodwork the likes of which you’ve seen only in an opium den. It might be a restaurant bar, but it has a style, vibe and—thanks to refreshing pear martinis—a taste all its own.

Read more
Boystown
6

Roscoe's Tavern

Roscoe's has a beautiful main bar, a dance floor, two back bars, an outdoor patio and all the Lady Gaga you desire, so the Boystown gay bar brings a lot to the table. The drink specials are the best in the neighborhood, with $13–$15 cocktail pitchers, $5 shots and bombs each day, and $1 Mlller Lites on Sundays.

Read more
Boystown
7

Replay Andersonville

The Andersonville outpost of the Boystown beer-and-bourbon barcade adds food to the mix, with burgers, brunch and more to fuel your retro gaming. The bar runs down the center of the space, though it's just one-sided—the other side of its rear wall is lined with video game consoles. The extensive beer list (26 rotating drafts listed on a giant chalkboards over the bar) and even bigger collection of bourbons are the reasons to visit, other than getting it on like Donkey Kong, of course. Service was a little terse on a recent visit, but the space is inviting and the games are free.

Read more
Andersonville
8

D.S. Tequila Company

If you’ve been to minibar, you know that owners Stu Zirin and John Dalton are no masters of subtlety. Witness, as further evidence, their more recent venture, D.S. Tequila, whose name (we’re pretty sure) refers to the sex act the Dirty Sanchez. The interior boasts a menu of boozy frozen margaritas and decent tacos and burgers. The only thing understated about the place is the outdoor patio, where twinkling colored lights give off a serene urban vibe.

Read more
Boystown
9

Progress Bar

Progress boasts a cloud-like overhead sculpture installation made up of 19,000 twinkling light bulbs. It also boasts a better selection of craft beers on tap than most bars on the Halsted strip, pouring elixirs like Magic Hat #9 and local brew Hopothesis IPA.

Read more
Boystown
10

Elixir

At this shoebox of a cocktail bar, the drinks are skillfully prepared, the crowd is kept to a minimum by the doorman, and the music never gets so loud that it drowns out your insights on Jean Genet. The clientele is mixed in age but not in gender, and everyone is on their best behavior, which makes it an altogether more sophisticated and adult experience than Elixir’s next-door sister, Hydrate.

Read more
Boystown
11

Crew Bar and Grill

Whether you’re hungry for baseball, football, rugby or just beer, this straight-friendly gay sports bar will work. Over forty beers, tasty (and even healthy) pub grub, lots of TVs and a rah-rah decor make this a fun place to cheer for your team, whatever team you’re on.

Read more
Uptown
12

Jackhammer

A construction theme dominates this Rogers Park gay bar, where a grab bag of leather dudes, street-tuff trannies and Boystowners out for adventure cram the dance floor on weekend nights. If you can lure yourself away from the constant porn, a beautiful outdoor patio beckons with a psychic on hand to predict that the guy you’re about to take home is probably not the same one you’ll be introducing to your parents one day.

Read more
Chicago
13

Hydrate

Hot and sweaty boys pack themselves in like gay sardines for all-night dancing at this thumpin' after-hours club. A rotating menu of shenagigans includes the Hy-Drag Revue, lube wrestling (seeing is believing), blackout parties and more. Recent renovations have carved out a space for live theater.

Read more
Boystown
14

SoFo Tap

What’s not to like about this cozy corner tavern? The enclosed beer garden is adorable, pooches are welcome and there are regular entertainments, like game show nights and pub quizzes. As for the clientele, it’s mostly thirty- and fortysomething gay dudes. But at SoFo, everyone is welcome.

Read more
North Side
15

Kit Kat Lounge

If you don’t know who Marilyn and Joan are, don’t bother. This slick nightspot only gets campier with age, so prepare to be entertained by black-and-white Hollywood glamour movies and performances by female impersonators of Hollywood icons. The 100-martini-strong drink list is a draw, and chef Joann Witherell puts the focus on dishes like bacon mac and cheese and Southern fried chicken with cayenne maple waffles. But you didn’t actually come here for the food, did you?

Read more
Boystown
16

The Glenwood

At first glance, this place looks like your typical yuppie sports bar, but the vastly male clientele, plum and ochre walls adorned with abstract art, and Kylie Minogue soundtrack reveal it to be Rogers Park’s straightest-acting gay bar. It’s also dog-friendly and offers a nice selection of retro cocktails like sidecars and lime rickeys.

Read more
Chicago

Comments

2 comments
Guanyu X
Guanyu X

whats happening in the Big Chick's image, why the guy on the right looks has been dodged. It's troubling me.

Larry S
Larry S

Sidetrack started out as a very small bar... one room... a Chicago take off of the Midnight Sun from San Francisco... As a softball player for Sidetrack, Roscoe's, and Big Chick's... not sure if North End and Buck's are still there.. .but spent a lot of Saturday's after softball at these bars.. and the Closet.